My terrible experience with dreamhost

I’d like to share an awful experience I’ve had with Dreamhost:

I’m a web designer doing a site for a client and I decided to use Dreamhost for web hosting. In November 2006, I setup a 2-year prepaid hosting account (crazy domain insane) in preparation of an e-commerce website launch that would take place in the next few months. At that time, Dreamhost requested that my client do a pencil rub of his credit card and fax it in to prevent fraud… a little hassle but no big deal. The payment was accepted and the account was activated.

After Nov 06, design and development of the website took place and was completed toward the end of Mar 07. The site was finalized and ready to go live. Many people had been told about the launch of the new site which was to be a primary source of revenue for my client.

On March 30, 07, I went to upload the website, and to my shock the domain wasn’t active and the hosting account wasn’t working. I logged into the control panel and noticed that the account was “pending approval” and an amount of $71.40 was owed. This was odd, because the account had previously been approved and activated. I emailed support and was told that the full balance on the account had not been paid, and that a remaining balance of $71.40 was owed. What they failed to mention is that Dreamhost, when they received the credit card rub, charged the incorrect amount on the card, paying for only 1 year of hosting instead of 2. Neither of us was informed of this error, and only when the site was ready to go live was I even aware that the account was deactivated. I told my client about the problem and he agreed to pay the remaining balance.

I logged into the control panel to pay the amount, but couldn’t, because the panel gave me a message saying something to the effect of, “one-time payments can only be made on accounts that are enabled.” Again, I emailed tech support asking them what was going on, and if they could just charged the remaining amount to the card on file to expedite things. 4 and a half hours later I received another email telling me the account status was changed to pending and that the remaining amount could be paid with Google Checkout (they ignored my request to charge the card on file). I used my client’s credit card info and paid the remaining $71.40, thinking the site would be up shortly after.

I waited a day, and the site did not go up. I sent an urgent support request asking what in the world was going on. Then I received a message the next day saying that the billing manager has to verify our Google payment. I then sent a long email explaining my situation and was told the account should’ve been automatically activated but wasn’t. The tech support guy replied back, apologizing for the situation and telling me he had activated the account and that the domain should be up shortly.

A day later the domain still wasn’t working. I logged into the control panel only to find a message saying that the domain wasn’t hosted with Dreamhost, when in fact it was registered originally in Nov 06!! I emailed tech support AGAIN and hours later I’m told I HAVE A NEGATIVE BALANCE ON MY ACCOUNT! WTF!!!??? I log into the control panel and it now says the account is pending approval $119.40 must be paid before the account is activated. Are you kidding me???!!! I emailed tech support yet again (this is the 7th time) and will have to wait even longer to get a reply.

This hosting account was supposed to be up in November 2006. It is now April 2007 and it still isn’t working.

This makes me look VERY unprofessional.

This makes my client look VERY unprofessional.

My client has lost significant revenue because the site is still not up.

This is the WORST EXPERIENCE I HAVE EVER HAD WITH A COMPANY IN MY ENTIRE LIFE. I’ve never written a story like this but this experience has been so unbelievably awful that I had to vent it publicly. Please beware in advanced before you choose to go with Dreamhost.

I’m sorry to hear all the problems you’ve been having - it really sucks that DH messed up like this. I hope they get things working for you soon, if not I’d ask for a full refund - even though you’re past the 97 days they should be willing to make an exception for you.

Please post back and let us know how this works out.

–Matttail - personal website

This sort of thing is highly unusual, and not at all typical for most DreamHost customers. You have been the victim of a highly unfortunate sequence of events that (in my opinion) stems from the original payment issue. There have been one or two problems associated with payments since DreamHost tried to tackle incidents of fraud.

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DH was out of line and unprofessional, but so are you.

If you were truly professional, you would have had DH on the phone and make them resolve the situation to your satisfaction in a single phonecall.

You can’t trust email and anonymous customer service people for business critical work – any ‘professional’ knows that.

The rest of your story sounds suspect – a pencil rub of a credit card ? What about clicking the magical ‘pay with credit card’ button ? I see that on my page, and on all my clients accounts i set up for them.

It would seem that in some cases (as far as I’m aware), you’re required to do a fax rub. I know that when I signed up in December, the pre-activation email I received stated that my account wouldn’t be activated until I sent in the rub (if I hadn’t done so already). Of course, that was if I had paid via credit card, which I didn’t.
The fax form is here also, in case you were wondering:

I partially agree with what you said about calling though. I would have certainly considered a call back, but that doesn’t mean the situation would have been resolved in any better fashion, quicker or otherwise.
Also, I don’t see how the email support here is “anonymous”. It’s literally the same thing as talking to someone in support on the phone. You aren’t face-to-face with the person, so your claim there is quite false and mis-informed.

It has nothing to do with professionalism either, as if you were indeed a true professional, you wouldn’t be hosting your client’s webspace on a cheap, shared host.

DH has no telephone number you can call. This isn’t an option. Some of the plans do come with “call backs”, then in an support request (E-mail) you could ask DH to call you back (if located in the US) and discuss the matter - but that’s not an option for everyone.

This is something that DH requests (requested?) on a semi-regular basis as part of their fraud detection. From a veteran of these forums I can confirm that a CC rub has been a fairly common request. I definatly agree that it sounds suspicious, and if DH had asked me for that when signing up I probably never would have become a customer - but luckily for me my account was approved without incident.

I’ll also second that the OP’s troubles aren’t common issues for DH. Not that it makes your problem any less frustrating.

–Matttail - personal website

I was being unprofessional? How so…? Dreamhost doesn’t offer phone support. Trust me, if they did this whole thing would have been resolved by now.

The only reason I used Dreamhost is because my client is on a tight budget… I didn’t have problems using them in the past for personal sites so I didn’t suspect I’d have any this time.

Why am I the one getting flamed when Dreamhost is the one screwing up?

sorry, i didn’t know that they do rubs.

i don’t mean to flame you – they’re completely at fault. but you can’t expect a back&forth with idiot tech support people to amount to anything.

they have several corporate numbers , but they’re all in white pages, etc.

this one is listed in whois off their domain


google has these 2:

New Dream Network - more info »
5610 Soto St, Huntington Park, CA
(323) 583-7991

New Dream Network LLC - more info »
417 Associated Road, Brea, CA
(213) 947-1032 - call

good luck getting on their ass.

[quote]I was being unprofessional? How so…? Dreamhost doesn’t offer phone support. Trust me, if they did this whole thing would have been resolved by now.

The only reason I used Dreamhost is because my client is on a tight budget… I didn’t have problems using them in the past for personal sites so I didn’t suspect I’d have any this time.

Why am I the one getting flamed when Dreamhost is the one screwing up?[/quote]
Errors can happen occasionally, but I can see where you screwed too here, and that was failing to confirm that everything was OK last November, rather than waiting until April to upload the site. Certainly it would make sense to at least post a few test pages to check connectivity, etc., etc. Are you saying you never thought of that?

Gene Steinberg
Co-Host, The Paracast
[b]My DreamHost Promo Plan—Use the code: [color=#CC0000]ROCKS[b][/color]

The numbers result in voice mail boxes, most likely to be deleted. Actually a few of the funniest ones get posted on their blog before deleting. Try them sometime, maybe you’ll make it to the blog too! :slight_smile:

And my experiences over the past three years with DH has been that their tech support is generally extremely knowledgeable. I have never dealt with an idiot at DH.

–Matttail - personal website

Yeah, I don’t think there are going to be any winners here. You’ve got my sympathy on your situation, OP, for what it’s worth…

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There’s a difference between knowledgeable advice and poor advice. Your advice is quite poor, considering none of those numbers are support numbers. So I don’t see how you can call tech support “idiots” when you’re giving the same type of advice an “idiot” tech would be giving.
Which, mind you, is not to be calling you an idiot. But you’re grouping yourself with such people if you continue to offer such advice.

Anyways… that aside.
@OP - It sounds like it’s not tech support to blame, so much as something is wrong with their system. It’s quite unfortunate (to put it very lightly, heh) and it definitely gives DH a bad name in that regard. I strongly recommend seeking another host for this client, and/or yourself, if DH isn’t able to offer something in return for such poor service.

Personally, I’ve only had a great experience with DH thus far, including their tech support - but I can certainly understand your grief over what should have been an easy-to-resolve issue.

Good luck! :slight_smile:

Again the issue that’s ignored here is the fact that the customer never checked the account after it was set up, which meant that the problems festered for months. That means that any possible account configuration error was never addressed, as it should have been right at the outset.

You may be able to hold DreamHost responsible for part of this – assuming the details given are accurate – but not for the fact that the account was never checked until months later. There’s no excuse for that, folks. Sorry.

Gene Steinberg
Co-Host, The Paracast
[b]My DreamHost Promo Plan—Use the code: [color=#CC0000]ROCKS[b][/color]

I agree with that completely; the fact is that often, in business, things don’t go as planned and need attention.

The OP is quick to complain about DH making him look “unprofessional” to his client, but the bulk of that responsibility actually seems to rest with him. His client relied upon the OP to “manage” the hosting arrangement, and letting the account sit “fallow” for months, without confirming that it is actually set-up properly and ready to go is something the OP should have addressed early on - so that it would be ready for launch when the time came.

Having not done that, it is a bit disingenuous to now try to put the full responsibility on DH for the fact that the owner and DH had hosting payment issues to resolve.


Gene and rlparker, you both completely missed my point in referring to DH being at fault (aka. “grief over what should have been an easy-to-resolve issue”). As DH, according to the OP, already admitted to being at fault, I was merely referring to how the situation developed into something more than it originally should have. Charging him $71.40 and then saying his account was ‘ready to go’, yet turning around to charge $119.40 immediately after sounds quite wrong. Definitely an error in billing in my opinion, but support shouldn’t have told him his account was ‘ready’ if in fact he needed to pay something more first. That, is where DH seems to be at blame. Though, again, we only have the OP’s point of view… so other things could be going on behind the scenes that none of us are informed of. So my statement is currently biased in reflection of that lack of info.

Otherwise I do agree with you both, the OP is completely responsible for making sure the account was properly setup and operating for his customer. Failure to do so, especially if it was for months before, is certainly inexcusable.


You ARE unprofessional. Time to go back to Business 101.

That assumes the information about the billing flap is correct. Remember, there are two sides to every story, and DreamHost is not going to discuss a customer’s private information in public. None of this would have occurred, really, had the account been checked right away.

Gene Steinberg
Co-Host, The Paracast
[b]My DreamHost Promo Plan—Use the code: [color=#CC0000]ROCKS[b][/color]

Actually, I did get your point completely, and I generally agree with your statement (I just failed to comment on that) :wink: .

Obviously, something got “borked” with the accounting, and whether or not it is all DH fault (as it could be, though they have never messed up one of my billings), once it became apparent there was a problem, or confusion about, the billing, I think DH should have stayed “on it” until it was resolved.

There is a true statement if I ever saw one! Often, at the end of the day, what actually happened turns out to be something different than is represented here. :wink:

That all said, I see a certain amount of just plain ol’ venting in the OP’s post(s) - hey, something got screwed up ; get it fixed and move on. Clearly there was some issue with the payment or none of this would have surfaced in the first place. The OP is just frustrated that he ended up looking bad and has an irate client to deal with. Most of that could have been mitigated by the OP own actions, had he chosen to take them, but probably not all of it - welcome to the world of “for hire” web development!


Please do let us know if you get it resolved. Note that these kinds of issues happen once in a great while everywhere. By posting this kind of information, we learn to be better consumers and DH really (hopefully) learns to be a better provider.

They’ve been nothing but simple and honest for me, but sometimes this stuff just is complex to get all happening at once.

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Let’s not fool ourselves, with hundreds of thousands of customers, I’m sure these kinds of issues happen every day! :slight_smile:

I was just talking to a friend of mine who related the story of finding a $100 million bearer bond in a pile of old records at a bank where she worked!

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same here, dreamhost service suck!